Demonic possession drama ‘The Crucifixion’ lacks life

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It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since Xavier Gens galvanized horror fans with his gore-soaked Euro-thriller “Frontier(s).” It’s even harder to believe that a filmmaker who once made something so creatively shocking was behind the camera for “The Crucifixion,” a lifeless demonic possession drama.

Co-written by Chad and Carey W. Hayes (the screenwriting twins behind “The Conjuring” series), “The Crucifixion” stars Sophie Cookson as Nicole Rawlins, an American reporter who ventures into the Romanian countryside in pursuit of a story about a nun who died during an exorcism. As she interviews priests and parishioners, Nicole begins to experience the usual strange phenomena: unexplained noises, objects moving, ghostly faces.

There’s much about this movie that’s confounding. The excessive back story gets delivered in long info-dump scenes; and since nearly every one of the actors is speaking in either a language or an accent that’s not their own, all that exposition comes out flat. (The rudimentary religious debates between Nicole and her devout host are almost unbearably tedious.)

Gens knows how to make a shot look good, and gets in a few memorably disturbing images. But most of “The Crucifixion” consists of routine jump-scares, worked into a dense plot about an ancient, body-hopping evil. Anyone could have made this movie. Many already have.

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‘The Crucifixion’

Rating: R, for violent images and some sexuality

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

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